A short reception took place in the Mayor’s Parlour in Larne Town Hall yesterday (Thursday) with a limited number of individuals attending, in keeping with the current Covid-19 guidelines that are in place.
The decision to confer the prestigious title to Dr Jonathan Rea MBE was one proposed by Cllr Gregg McKeen and seconded by Alderman Paul Reid.
The Mayor, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “The Freedom of the Borough is the highest accolade that Council can award and I am delighted to have presented it to World Superbike Champion Dr Jonathan Rea MBE.
“Jonathan’s career to date has been nothing short of incredible. He is one of the greatest sports people our country has ever produced.”
A past pupil of Larne Grammar School, Jonathan has won the Superbike World Championship a record six times. He is the first rider in the history of the Championship to achieve six world titles consecutively from 2015 until 2020.
The Mayor added: “The word legend is often over-used, but in Jonathan, we in Mid and East Antrim, have someone who is truly fitting of that description.
“He is a wonderful ambassador for our area and an inspiration to so many throughout Northern Ireland, and around the world.”
To mark the occasion a ‘perpetual’ bursary has been launched by council in Dr Jonathan Rea’s name. This will provide additional support to sporting individuals within the borough who will act as effective ambassadors in their chosen sporting activity with funding up to £2,000 per individual.
Cllr Johnston said: “While it is customary to have an exchange of gifts at Freedom events, Jonathan asked that rather than presenting him with a gift, to explore options which would assist individuals within our borough who excel in individual sports so that they can enhance their sporting development.
“This bursary is a fitting tribute to Dr Jonathan Rea and we thank him for this lasting legacy which will benefit many recipients from our borough.”
Click here to read: Jonathan Rea praised for backing Cystic Fibrosis Trust campaign
Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers. Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.